ayala museum, ayala museum diorama, georgina zobel padilla, premio zobel, fernando zobel
The last time I saw Ayala Museum was in 1989. I was a grade 5 student in Makati. If I remember it correctly, the museum was then located along Ayala Avenue, near where Makati Stock Exchange stands today.
What stuck in my mind from that school excursion was the diorama. It made a huge impression on me. To this day, when Ayala Museum is mentioned this exhibit is the first thing that comes to mind.
Yesterday, when I visited the museum, after more than two decades of absence, the first question I asked the staff, “the diorama is on what floor?”
The dioramas were meticulously crafted by the artisans of Paete. There’s around 60 of them. It took five years to complete the project. The detail on the figurines is something to behold. I remember our history teacher, Mrs. Ceremonias, pointing out to us Pres. Marcos’s likeness in the “Death March” display.
My favorite diorama is the scene of Bonifacio publicly tearing up his cedula. Aside from key historical figures on the makeshift stage, the entire setting is surrealistic. You could see people going about their business, children playing, women cooking and men getting excited by what is being said on that stage.
I wonder if they come alive when the museum closes shop—like that Ben Stiller movie.
There were other exhibits in the museum. Fernando Zobel de Ayala’s abstract art occupies the entire third floor. While I don’t understand this style of painting it is worth seeing. I have accepted that abstract art is something that’s just not for me!
While viewing the paintings, I remembered Sionil Jose’s article about the painter. The novelist saw Fernando’s work in Guggenheim but was told that the exhibit were from a contemporary Spanish artist. Puzzled, he telephoned the artist when he went back home. He asked if he’s Spanish and the artist confirmed that he was. This infuriated him to the extent that he called on his reader to disregard the painter as a pioneer in Filipino art.
Perhaps, he meant, that he’s a Spanish citizen—but his roots are here. He spent most of his life in this country. Tell me, how many American celebrities would announce their familial links here only when they’re promoting their shows?
By the way, most of F. Sionil Jose’s books are available in Ayala Museum’s shop.
A member of the Ayala family that I admire is Georgina Padilla Y Zobel, granddaughter of Don Enrique, who created the Premio Zobel in 1920. She’s republishing our priceless literature in Spanish. She does not have to but she’s a believer in promoting our hispano-filipino tradition.
We have lost a great deal of our Spanish literature. It’s a shame that our past and present leaders has neglected our literary heritage in Spanish.
With the exception of Rizal, all writers who wrote in Spanish has had the misfortune of getting completely ignored by their countrymen.
The La Oveja de Nathán, written by one of our greatest novelist, Cebuano Antonio Abad, was recently reprinted through Dona Georgina’s initiative. There are more hispano-filipino books that she intends to republish according to the historian Guillermo_Gómez_Rivera, one of the last awardee of the Premio Zobel.
The soft bound copy of La Oveja de Nathán is priced at P500 in the Ayala Museum.
You could enter the museum for P150, much less if you’re a student. I would be less interested in Philippine history today if it were not for the Ayala Museum.
Go see the dioramas! Bring the kids! Go see the Ayala Museum!